Feb 17, 2024 | Welcome Column

Volunteers are the backbone of any organization like the CBA. Volunteering is fun! You get to meet other passionate music lovers and you get to feel a sense of accomplishment. Here are a couple of stories from CBA volunteers:


If you have been to Father’s Day Festival any time in the last few years, you have probably taken a ride with Rich Lierly. Rich has been a People Mover/Bluegrass Taxi driver for many years. This year he is taking over as Coordinator for the Bluegrass Taxi crew.

“I retired in March 2014 and from then on ( except for the Covidyears) I have been driving the Bluegrass taxis. I am a single retired Civil Engineer with 3 grown daughters (who grew up attending with me and my Mother ) and 4 Granddaughters and have been attending the Father’s Day weekend festival since my parents first brought me in the mid- late 70s.

I enjoy driving the Bluegrass Taxi with my little dog BB (she’s my 2nd BB) as we both enjoy interacting with the attendees and especially helping those with limited mobility. Volunteering for the CBA at the Father’s Day weekend Bluegrass festival is a highlight of my year! Please come over and say Hi — we always like to meet new people!”

You can join Rich’s team by filling out the Volunteer Registration Form at  https://www.volgistics.com/appform/847050736 Put Bluegrass Taxi as your preference.

Meet Wendy Wendt, VP of Membership:


Volunteer a little or a lot!

While I was planning my (somewhat early) retirement at age 62, I knew I would need to keep busy to help me wind down to my new pace of life and I immediately thought of the CBA because we have the nicest people.  While I’m not really a bonafidebluegrass musician (I played the piano and performed French music for over 10 years in the Bay area and was active in the singer/songwriter community), I sort of landed in bluegrass through friends and a local jam in Martinez.  I started going to a monthly jam and found it was a way for me to connect with my musician husband, Doug.  Doug is a classical guitarist and played with a jazz quartet for many years.  Bluegrass allowed us to perform together and try out new songs, new instruments and got Doug into singing lead.  Fast forward several years and we now perform western swing, country and cowboy songs with bandmates who are bonafide bluegrassers and who we met through bluegrass jams. I should also mention that since associating with the CBA, I now own a banjo and a fiddle (purchased at the FDF luthier pavilion) and have made progress in both. (Full disclosure: my main instrument is accordion).  I have attended the CBA summer music camp at least four times.  It’s so much fun and I highly recommend it.

Back to volunteering…I had some skills with databases and list management and saw the CBA needed someone to manage membership.  That sure kept me busy my first year of retirement as we rolled out our new membership management system!  My skills were gained during 30+ years in administrative work but were often overlooked while I was employed. Not so, as a volunteer with the CBA! The CBA team is SO appreciative as are most of the members I interact with, which has made this work a real pleasure.  I love answering emails and resolving issues for our members.  My CBA work is often behind the scenes stuff, but also a lot of communications work, something I also happened to have a lot of professional experience with.

The first time I attended the FDF in my new role, I was lucky to have two very seasoned volunteers (Mike Fahmie and Walt Loew) show me the ropes at the membership table. Each year we end up with a stellar team…a mix of well-experienced repeat volunteers and new recruits.  I am so grateful to these volunteers and on my FDF team, we really try to make it fun and flexible for our volunteers.  Another funny coincidence, Mike and I are both retirees of Lawrence Berkeley National Lab!

Mike Fahmie

I’ve been volunteering at FDF for over 30 years, and have attended since the beginning except I missed 1979 (my son was born on the festival weekend and I had to stay home). I started in Mercantile with Irene and Neil Evans, then followed them over to T-Shirts, then stayed in T-Shirts when they retired. I eventually moved to Membership where I’ve been for at least 5 or 6 years. I enjoy interacting with people and supporting the festival (and I get a shady place to sit during the performances). I am retired after 40 years at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab.

I’ve done a lot of volunteering over the years, 24 years as a member of the National Ski Patrol, 30 years as a reserve policeman, and 10 years, so far, with the Calaveras County Search & Rescue Team.

Walter Loew

For me, FDF is something magical that materializes for four days every year and then evaporates and is gone — it won’t be there until the magic happens the next year. It’s temporarily a special place in the universe. (Of course we all know the magic happens through a *lot* of work.)  I’ve been coming for 15 years and volunteering for most of those.  I most like the Membership Booth because of the unending stream of interesting people that come through.

People like Wendy, Rich, Walt, Mike and many others make it possible for the rest of us to enjoy our CBA bluegrass experiences. When you go to your next CBA event thank them if you run into them. Better still see what you can do to help out at the next event. The CBA spring campout is coming up soon. Maybe Deb Livermore could help you feel useful while you are having a great time!




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